Saturday, 24 November 2012

Thank You Kingston Nissan

Last week we received a call from the Kingston This Week Reporter who wrote our story.  She had great news for us!  She had a check for $500 from Mr. Ron Cotton, owner of Kingston Nissan.  We would like to thank Mr. Cotton from the bottom of our heart for sponsoring little Jedi.  The money is going towards her training and she will have a very cool Kingston Nissan logo on her jacket. (see above picture) 

If you are local and are going into Kingston Nissan please thank them for being Jedi's sponsor.  Mr. Cotton is a huge lab lover and our story really made him want to help.  He sent us the $500 without even realizing that was the cost of a sponsorship.  When we offered to put his logo on the jacket he was quite pleased.  It's a great partnership since Jedi will be wearing a red jacket that matches the logo really well.  As soon as Jedi is big enough to wear her jacket she will proudly advertise Kingston Nissan for giving from the heart to help a little girl and her service dog.

Thank You Kingston Nissan

Please visit the Kingston Nissan web site at Kingston Nissan 

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Mastering "sit", "stay", "off" and "take it"

We have had the puppies for 1 week now and they are doing incredibly well.  Both are full of personality and love.  Jedi is the easiest of the two to train, but only because Griffin has that "goofy love" kind of personality.  Both pups are doing very well and even with the "goofy love" personality Griffin has already learned some commands.
  I started the pups off with the command "sit", which they mastered incredibly fast.  They are now expected to sit and stay before they get their treat.  They have been taught the "off" command which simply means "don't touch".  They are not allowed to take their training treats without the command "take it".  This helps them to understand that it is not ok to pick up food they might see on the floor of a store,  I remember when River was a puppy and I was doing some training with her in Costco.  There was a man there who tried to slip her a piece of pizza and because River wasn't given the "take it" command the pizza fell on the floor.  (I was so proud of her that day)  Seriously, people don't always understand how wrong it is to bother, tease, or offer a working dog something.  Thanks to the command "take it" River had learned that nothing is eaten without that command.

Both puppies are starting to work on the "wait" command.  This is used when their food dish is put down.  They "wait", and are told "Off", and when they hear the "take it" command they are free to eat.  Both are doing so well.

I will continue to build on the commands they are learning and am taking baby steps as I introduce the new words to them.  I do 3, 15 minute sessions of training with each puppy daily at this time.  2 of the sessions are with the puppies together. 
Here they are practising the "off" command.  They no longer jump up at the food and just wait until they hear "take it" and then they gently take the food from me.

Jedi is so alert during her training and uses incredible eye contact.  She listens very well and waits for me to tell her when she can "take it".

Sunday, 18 November 2012

..and the training begins

We have had the puppies for a total of 4 days and they are both doing incredibly well. Griffin is coming when called and Jedi has gone out on her first trip into the community. We are so pleased with the abilities these dogs have at such a young age already. Here is a video of Griffin coming when called.  He is even doing this with the distraction of Jedi playing with him.  This is so exciting for us!

Today Jedi went on her fist public outing.  We chose a place where there were no other dogs because she has only had her first set of shots.  She attended Autism Ontario's Potential Program, a program for children on the spectrum to practise their social skills while enjoying various activities.  Today's activity was music hosted by Music Mates.

Jedi made new friends at the beginning and then she sat so nicely and watched the wonderful music class.  The drums were loud and the kids were busy.  There was a big parachute that was going up in the air and rubber balls flying all over the place.  Jedi sat so well and was never concerned about anything.  She is a care-free dog which is just perfect for what we need in a service dog.  Her personality matched River's almost identically.


Here she is lying down with her back to all of the action.  She didn't get hyper and she didn't bark even once. 

Here she is very curious about what was going on.  Just watching and being ever-so quiet.

This picture was taken while the drums were going.  They were loud and she loved them.  She watched the kids drum and seemed quite entertained. I think we have a really great dog here and so far after having her for 4 days she is already amazing me.

Commands we are working on...

Right now we are working with both dogs so they get to know their names, and we are giving them time away from each other so we can train individually as well as together.  They are learning "sit", "come", "do busys (for elimination), "Off", and "take it".  Both are doing incredibly well.  Next Sunday Griffin gets his turn to go to music class. 

Oh, and on a different note... a dear friend of ours has tickets for Brian and I to see The Dog Whisperer!  We are looking forward to this even know I have heard mixed reviews on this trainer. It will be a great evening to learn from a professional. :) Thank you Brad and Tanya!


Thursday, 15 November 2012

Welcome Home Jedi and Griffin

We are so thrilled that our family has grown by two more furry friends.  Everyone is settling in beautifully and I have to say that these pups have amazing personalities!  Here they are..

Masonridge's Jedi Spirit

Masonridge's Griffin Forest

Both puppies are doing incredibly well.  They had their first set of shots on Monday and today they finished their final deworming medication.  River is adjusting to them very well and only barks when they try to nurse on her.  LOL  The puppies are getting to understand that River doesn't have milk. 

One picture that I took just melts my heart.  It is a picture of Jedi giving Sienna wonderful eye contact at the same time as kisses.  It melts my heart and will be a "must have" picture in the book I am writing.  Here it is...

Our journey begins now...let the training begin.  These little sweeties are very smart so I bet they will have some fun stuff to show each of you soon.

Thank you again for all of your support!  We appreciate all of you so much!

Samantha & Brian

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Thank You Doesn't Seem Like Enough...

I am at a loss for words.  I am sitting here still trying to figure out how in the world I can thank everyone who participated in our fundraiser last night.  It was amazing! I have no idea what we made with the fundraiser but I do have to say I am at a loss for words right now.  Not only did my friends show up but so many new faces came too.  I made new friends, my kids made new friends, and River even made a new canine friend.  I had strangers hugging me and petting River.  It was just so wonderful to have so much support.

I want to thank each and every person who showed up last night.  It means the world to me to know that so many people believe in my abilities to train service dogs.  I was given all kinds of encouragement, many many hugs, and strangers walked in off the street and handed me checks and cash.  It was unbelievable.  Thank you to each and everyone of you!  With just the money that was handed to me last night I will be paying the breeder our balance for Jedi today!  Thank you all from the bottom of my heart.
A special thank you to the staff at The Playtrium for helping us do this.  They were so kind and helpful and excited for us.  I was told that they were 4x busier than usual so this is great news for us and great news for them.

It is truly amazing how many people were touched by the newspaper articles and came to show support.  Thank you to Kingston This Week, The Whig Standard, and Snap for helping to spread the word about our fundraiser.  I am hoping that as our journey continues that people follow our blog and watch as the pups are trained.  I am excited to have people meet these wonderful puppies and get them both started on their training.
Through all of this I am most excited about the new friends I have made.  Our breeder Carol is like family to us and before this journey we didn't even know her.  What a blessing!  Other dog trainers have reached out and have shown so much support and caring as well.  Thank you Elizabeth for your words of wisdom.  

So, as you can see, it's really hard to find the right words to thank everyone.  Thank you just doesn't seem to be enough.  You have all helped us buy the pups and you have also given us so much more confidence just by caring.  We are so very excited that the puppies will be coming home on Thursday.  They will be coming home with the breeder paid in full thanks to all of you who have helped.

Most importantly, Sienna had a terrific time.  She was full of incredible energy and her respite worker, Cassie got a great work-out running after her all night.  The smiles on Sienna's face were full of sunshine!  A HUGE thank you to Cassie for keeping Sienna safe while I talked to people.  You really do have wings my friend and you are incredible at your job.


Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Guard dogs of a different type

The second article is now up!  This is so exciting!  I really hope we have a big turnout on Friday.  Even better...they both mention the disorder Pyridoxine Dependency.  It's rare and many have never heard of it.  If these articles educate just one person on this disorder it just might save lives for somebody else's child.
Guard dogs of a different type | Local | News | The Kingston Whig-Standard

Parents to host fundraiser | Local | News | Kingston This Week

Our first newspaper article is out.  Take a peek! :o)

Parents to host fundraiser | Local | News | Kingston This Week

Looking forward to the next one!

Friday, 2 November 2012

Training for Seizure alert

This has to be one of the biggest questions I get.  I could be walking through the store with River, somebody reads her jacket, and then the questions start.  "How did you train your dog to alert for seizures?"  It's a big question and I can never explain it in just a few minutes.  Training comes in steps and so this makes the answer difficult to give while standing in the bread aisle of the store.  I will try to explain how we trained River for this amazing work...

In our home seizures can occur quite often so River got quite a bit of practise before starting to alert on her own.  The first thing we taught River to do was bark.  Yes, you read that correctly... we taught her to bark on command.  We then taught her the "quiet" command.  When she barked on command she was given a pat on the head and verbal praise.  When one of my daughters started a seizure, River was taught to bark and bark like crazy and was given a really special food treat while the seizure was happening.  She'd bark as Brian or I tended to the seizing child and we'd toss these special treats to her. Once things were under control we'd give the "quiet" command, followed by the rest of the bag of treats. (yes, she deserved them)

So, River learned that when Asia was seizing she'd get treats for barking.  It's quite simple actually..River could see the seizure happening, could hear the sounds a child makes while it is happening, but she could also smell a seizure.  Studies have suggested that a person gives off a pheromone before a seizure starts.  When River was only 6 months old she alerted for the first time on her own.  She started her barking pattern without a command.  At first it confused us as to why she was doing this without us asking.  At first we thought she had taken a step back in her training since she was only 6 months old.

What River had learned was to anticipate those special treats.  She knew the commands, the sounds, and the sight of a seizure...but no seizure had started yet.  She knew though, that before the "bark" command she would smell those pheromones and so she started to bark at the scent.  River was alerting for a seizure BEFORE it even happened.  Asia seized 10 minutes after she started barking.  So, to train a dog for seizure work you are actually training them to anticipate a situation.  River is such a gift and has alerted for hundreds and hundreds of seizures.  I honestly believe that if we didn't have her, we wouldn't have Asia here either.  Asia still has seizures but we are able to manage  them so much better now.  We give oral Pyridoxine when River "tells us to" and this reduces the severity of the seizure or even prevents it totally.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

The Most Beautiful Gift....

Today our mailbox was stuffed with a big, beautiful package.  It was pink with all kinds of hearts on it and it flew all the way from Seattle, Washington to Sienna.  Inside was the most beautiful dog leash for Jedi.

Donated by a wonderful home-based business called Cay's Knotty Things this wonderful leash is just beautiful.  It is lovingly hand-made with top quality materials.  We got to choose the colours and Cayleigh Wells, owner of Cay's Knotty Things got it out to us incredibly fast.  If you are looking for a leash or even a collar please check out this fabulous company!  You won't be disappointed.   They also make really awesome items like belts, bracelets, and key tabs.  Huge tail wags go out to Cay's Knotty Things for donating this awesome dog leash.  Sienna will be bring this with us on November 15th to pick up Jedi.